Maureen’s Trip to India

As I write this, I am reflecting and preparing myself for a few days of silence and meditation here at the Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama ashram in Rishikesh, India. Rishikesh is thought to be the birthplace of yoga and is one of the beginning points for pilgrimage to sacred places within the Himalaya mountains. The city itself is beautiful—it’s vibrant, colorful, and filled with spiritual-seekers. Monkeys, cows, and dogs freely roam the streets, and trees grow up through the cobblestone surrounding shops. The city’s economy appears to revolve entirely around yoga, meditation, massage, and related healing-arts. Street Sadhu—holy men dressed in orange, (who have renounced all material possession and are homeless by choice)—can be found on every corner and are considered the real yogis of Rishikesh. They live the lifestyle of the Buddha before he sat under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment.

At the same time, among all of this new stimulation, I am starkly aware of the contrast my manner of living in the United States presents with most residents of this city. As much as I love seeing other cultures, I really love trips that reframe my perspective. Observing the daily hustle and bustle of India reminds me how much I have to be grateful for and how small the problems are that I choose to be anxious over. The biggest problems I’ve run into since being here are sleep deprivation and a bone-settling cold that won’t shake. Houses and hotels have no heat and only a couple of minutes of hot water (however, my discomfort is temporary—I don’t live in the Himalayas).

As one of my traveling companions noted, I find that I am still able to enjoy meditation and yoga even though I am not at my most comfortable. How many classes have I attended where teachers pre-heat the room to the exact temperature I like it? How often do I have to worry about having enough to eat before going to yoga practice? Being here reminds me of the roots of this practice—not to get comfortable and then find peace, (this is easy), but to practice finding peace when I am uncomfortable. To be filled with gratitude for everything going right in my life! To choose to show up every day to take care of my mind, body, and spirit in some way through consistent practice, because this is the only home I’ll ever really know, the temple surrounding my mind. Over the next few days, I will be working to release all expectation and control—to go with the flow in the manner of the Sadhus. 🙂 Here’s a preview of the ashram’s daily schedule. Wish me luck!

5:30am – Morning Prayer
5:40am – Joints & Glands
7:00am – Guided Meditation
8:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Karma Yoga
10:00am – Philosophy Class
12:00pm – Diaphragmatic Breathing
1:00pm – Lunch
2:00pm – Digestive Breathing
3:00pm – Self-study
4:00pm – Tea
4:15pm Hatha Yoga
5:45pm – Silent Meditation
7:00pm – Supper
8:00pm – Evening Program
9pm – Evening Prayer




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